SEATTLE — An annular solar eclipse is on the way in October, and there are choice parts of the Pacific Northwest where you might be able to see it for yourself.
What is an annular solar eclipse?
An annular eclipse differs from the total eclipse we saw appear across our skies in 2017. For the latter, the moon completely obscures the sun, while the former features a bright ring of sunlight around the edge of the circle, since that’s when the moon is at its furthest point from the Earth in its orbit. That’s also why the annular iteration is typically known as a “ring of fire” eclipse.
An annular eclipse can last as long as 12 minutes, and occurs every one to two years.
Where and when to view the October annular eclipse
The next annular eclipse is due on Oct. 14, 2023, and will be visible in parts of the United States, Mexico, and South and Central America. The sun will be obscured to varying degrees depending on where you’re viewing the eclipse from.
The sun will be between 90-100% obscured from south/central Oregon moving diagonally/southeast across parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. For anyone in the Pacific Northwest, your best bet will be making the drive to Eugene, Oregon, provided the weather cooperates and clouds aren’t in the forecast for that day.
For anyone in the Seattle area, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that roughly 80% of the sun will be obscured during this eclipse across Western Washington. The bad news is that given where our region’s weather patterns are at for that time of year, cloud cover is likely to interfere with our view west of the Cascades. That said, a slight dimming of the landscape can still be expected.
How to safely watch the annular eclipse
The same rules apply for watching an annular eclipse versus a total one: Do not look directly into it without proper eye protection. That means using eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer at all times. Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes.
When is the next total eclipse?
The next total eclipse visible in the United States is expected to arrive on April 8, 2024. Unlike the last one in 2017, though, this one won’t be visible to any significant degree in the western half of the country. Rather, its main path will span northeast from San Antonio, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Buffalo. For more information on that eclipse you can head to this link.
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